Santa’s Village asks East Dundee to help with $3.5million expansion plan
Santa’s Village is hoping East Dundee trustees will provide financial help to bring plans for the amusement park’s expansion to fruition.
The park closed at the end of the summer season in 2005 but reopened in 2011 with a new owner. Since then, the park owner has invested more than $20 million in renovating this popular entertainment destination, which includes typical amusement park rides, animals and a water park.
At Monday’s meeting, Santa Claus Village President Jason Sierpien outlined the $3.5 million project, which would add a lazy river to the water park and return the Polar Dome to an ice arena.
“We’re certainly not looking for a freebie,” Sierpien said Tuesday morning. “But we are looking for help.”
The exact form of this assistance has yet to be determined, but could include a loan from amusement tax revenues or funding through an existing tax increment funding district, where the Property tax money above a certain point is funneled to development rather than local governments, which includes the amusement park.
Water park expansion plans include a lazy river, spray deck, full-service cabanas, and the park’s 10th dining venue. The upgrades would increase the water park’s capacity from 650 to around 2,000 guests.
“It would really put us on the map as a water park,” Sierpien said of the expansion plans, adding that the closest water parks with a lazy river are in Gurnee and Yorkville.
During a weekend of good weather, the park can accommodate up to 7,000 visitors. He estimates that park improvements could attract 100,000 additional visitors each season.
The village amusement tax would also see an increase of about $150,000 in the first year after the improvements are completed, he estimated.
Sierpien said the Polar Dome upgrades would return the dome to an arena of ice. The renovations would add a restaurant and a family playground with video games and other arcade games. He said there was a need in the area for ice time for hockey leagues, but added that the company was also considering other uses for the dome during off-peak hours.
Currently, the park rents the dome, which is used for laser tag. Sierpien said the lease, which expires in October, will not be renewed.
If funding is secured, construction could begin in July on both projects. Sierpien said the dome could be open in the fall and water park renovations would be completed in time for the 2023 season.
The existing amusement and water park would remain open during construction.
East Dundee Village Administrator Erika Storlie will be reviewing funding options and presenting a plan to Village Administrators in the near future.
Administrator Rich Treiber, who has had discussions with Santa Claus Village officials with Storlie, said he hopes the village council can consider a proposal in May.
“They’ve been at the doorstep of our community for so long,” Treiber said. “They’ve made such waves and progress in redevelopment of the property…and brought thousands of visitors to the community.”